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Plumbing 101: What Causes a Sewer Backup and How Can You Fix it?

Everyone knows happy homeowning involves routine maintenance. While the inside and outside are obvious for upgrades, the black sheep of the family lives underground.

A house can only be so beautiful if the basics don’t work—and there’s nothing like a sewer backup to put a damper on things.

It’s easy to neglect home operations until a sewer problem halts water access. A home’s sewage backup impacts the following everyday functions:

  • Shower and bath
  • Toilets
  • Bathroom and kitchen sinks
  • Dishwasher
  • Washing machine and dryer
  • Drinking water
  • Sprinkling system
  • Morning coffee (nooo!)
  • Cooking

In an instant, one system can take down everyday necessities. Is your home a target for sewer problems? Here’s how to find out.

Sewer Backup

Clogged sewers are a real buzzkill. Beyond seizing everyday needs, sewage is a dangerous contaminant. You’ve likely known sewage holds E. coli—a toxic bacteria for the environment—and now it’s in your home.

If you’re questioning the safety of your sewage pipes, it’s likely you’ve experienced the following:

  • Gurgling sounds or bubbling from your toilets, drains, or sinks
  • Discolored water
  • Flooding in the house
  • A tub full of wastewater
  • A basement drain backing up
  • Glitches in many fixtures at once
  • That smell

The ultimate tell-tale sign of a sewer backup, though, is your reaction to these issues. If you’re feeling stressed, concerned, worried, suspicious, frustrated, or distracted by the way your home is functioning, you already know it’s time for a sewer cleaning.

How to Fix a Sewer Backup

Once you’ve suspected sewer problems, it’s time to backtrack. Learning about clogged sewers can do two things.

  1. It helps explain what caused yours
  2. It helps prevent future damage

Sewage backup happens from the following.

1. Old Sewer Lines

While some say sewage pipes can last a lifetime, the question remains, Well, whose lifetime? Depending on when you moved in the home and what type of pipes it has, their lifespan can vary from 50-100 years.

For as long as pipes last, they cause an equally risky health risk once they fail.

2. Natural Flooding

If your sewage symptoms come after a heavy storm, you’re likely not the only one with a problem. Knowing whether your sewage issues are singular or communal can inform your next action steps.

Living in an old, historic town or somewhere with poor drainage systems can impact how often you confront your sewage.

3. Tree Roots

Tree roots love to tango with sewage pipes. Keeping an eye on yours can create necessary boundaries, otherwise, you’ll have to uproot one or the other!

4. Toilet Trouble

Clogging toilets with things beyond minimal toilet paper and waste is a huge contributor to sewage backups. Being mindful of what you flush keeps things running smoothly.

5. Greased up Drains

Pouring grease and oils down your drains is asking for a backup. These forms of fat solidify and clog the whole system.

Everything you dispose of goes somewhere—remembering this helps what you dispose of and how.

Spare Yourself From Sewage

Somehow we all know what sewage smells like and the home is not a place for it. If you have a sewer backup, there’s no need to be a savior. That biohazard’s best left to the experts.

There’s good news and bad news: while some sewage backups can’t be prevented, most of them can be! Being more mindful around your ways with waste—in the kitchen and the bathroom—is the best way to keep things clean.

For more on living smart, check out our other blog posts!